Why Does The Side Of My Knee Hurt After Running

Why Does The Side Of My Knee Hurt After Running?

If you have ever experienced pain on the side of your knee after running, you are not alone. This is a common issue that many runners face. Understanding the possible causes of this pain and how to prevent it can help you continue enjoying your running routine without discomfort. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind side knee pain and provide you with some helpful tips on how to manage it.

1. IT Band Syndrome

IT Band Syndrome, also known as iliotibial band syndrome, is one of the most common causes of side knee pain in runners. The iliotibial band is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of your thigh, from your hip to your shin. When this band becomes tight or inflamed, it can rub against the outside of your knee, causing pain.

2. Patellofemoral Syndrome

Patellofemoral Syndrome, also called runner’s knee, is another possible cause of side knee pain. This condition occurs when the cartilage under your kneecap becomes irritated due to improper alignment or overuse. Pain is usually felt around or behind the kneecap and can be aggravated by activities that involve repetitive knee bending, such as running.

3. Meniscus Tear

A meniscus tear is a common knee injury that can cause pain on the side of the knee. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a shock absorber. Tears can occur as a result of sudden twisting or direct impact to the knee. If you have a meniscus tear, you may experience pain, swelling, and difficulty moving your knee.

4. Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome is a similar condition to IT Band Syndrome but with a slightly different mechanism. Instead of the IT band rubbing against the outside of the knee, it rubs against the femur bone on the outside of the knee joint. This can cause inflammation and pain. This condition is often associated with long-distance running or activities that involve repetitive knee bending.

5. Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, small sacs filled with fluid that cushion the joints. When a bursa becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and swelling around the affected joint. In the case of knee pain, bursitis can occur on the inside or outside of the knee, leading to discomfort on the side of the knee.

6. Overpronation

Overpronation is a term used to describe excessive inward rolling of the foot during walking or running. This can put added pressure on the inside of the knee, leading to pain on the side of the knee. If you have flat feet or low arches, you may be more prone to overpronation and the associated knee pain.

7. Weak Hip Muscles

The muscles in your hips play a crucial role in stabilizing your knees while running. If these muscles are weak or imbalanced, it can cause improper alignment and increased stress on the knee joint. Weak hip muscles can contribute to various knee injuries, including side knee pain.

8. Tight Muscles

Tight muscles, particularly in the lower body, can also contribute to side knee pain. When muscles, such as the quadriceps or hamstrings, are tight, they can pull on the knee joint, causing discomfort. Stretching and proper warm-up exercises can help alleviate this issue.

9. Inadequate Footwear

Wearing inappropriate footwear while running can also contribute to side knee pain. Improper arch support, inadequate cushioning, or shoes that are worn out can affect your foot alignment, leading to increased stress on the knee joint. Investing in high-quality running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning is essential for preventing knee pain.

10. Overtraining

Overtraining or increasing your running intensity too quickly can put excessive stress on your knees, leading to various knee injuries. It is important to gradually increase your mileage and strength to allow your body to adapt and lower the risk of knee pain.

How to Prevent and Treat Side Knee Pain After Running


  1. Gradually increase your running mileage and intensity to avoid overuse injuries.
  2. Ensure you have proper footwear that provides adequate support and cushioning.
  3. Focus on strengthening your hip muscles through exercises such as hip bridges, clamshells, and lateral leg raises.
  4. Incorporate regular stretching and foam rolling to maintain flexibility and release tight muscles.
  5. Listen to your body and take rest days when needed to allow for proper recovery.


If you are already experiencing side knee pain after running, here are some treatment options you can try:

  1. Rest: Take a break from running to allow your knee to heal and recover.
  2. Ice: Apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation and pain.
  3. Elevation: When resting, elevate your leg to reduce swelling.
  4. Compression: Use a compression bandage or knee brace to provide support and reduce swelling.
  5. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide targeted exercises and treatments to help alleviate knee pain and prevent future injuries.


1. Can side knee pain be serious?

Side knee pain can range from mild discomfort to more severe pain, depending on the underlying cause. It is important to address and treat the pain to prevent further damage or chronic issues.

2. How long does it take for side knee pain to heal?

The healing time for side knee pain can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the individual’s response to treatment. In general, mild cases of knee pain may heal within a few weeks, while more severe injuries may take several months to fully recover.

3. Should I continue running if my knee hurts?

If you are experiencing knee pain while running, it is generally recommended to take a break and allow your knee to heal. Continuing to run can exacerbate the issue and potentially lead to more serious injuries.

4. When should I see a doctor for my knee pain?

If your knee pain persists or worsens despite self-care measures, or if you are unable to bear weight on your knee, it is advisable to consult a doctor. They can assess your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

5. Can stretching help prevent side knee pain?

Stretching can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness, which may contribute to side knee pain. Including regular stretching exercises in your routine can be beneficial for preventing injuries.

6. Are there any exercises that can help strengthen the knees?

Yes, there are several exercises that can help strengthen the muscles around the knees. Some examples include squats, lunges, step-ups, and leg presses. It is important to perform these exercises with proper technique and gradually increase intensity to avoid strain or injury.

7. Can physical therapy be helpful for side knee pain?

Yes, physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for side knee pain. A physical therapist can assess your condition, develop a personalized treatment plan, and provide exercises and techniques to help reduce pain and improve knee function.

8. Will losing weight help alleviate side knee pain?

Losing weight can potentially reduce the stress on your knees and alleviate side knee pain, especially if excess weight is a contributing factor. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can have positive effects on overall joint health.

9. Can overpronation be corrected?

Overpronation can be managed and improved with appropriate footwear, orthotics, and specific exercises to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles. Consulting with a podiatrist or physical therapist can provide valuable guidance in addressing overpronation.

10. Can side knee pain occur in non-runners?

While side knee pain is commonly associated with running, it can also occur in individuals who engage in other activities that place repetitive stress on the knee joint, such as cycling, hiking, or playing sports.


Side knee pain after running can be caused by several factors, including IT band syndrome, patellofemoral syndrome, meniscus tears, and more. Preventive measures, such as gradual training progression, proper footwear, and strengthening exercises, can help reduce the risk of injury. If you experience knee pain, it is essential to rest, ice, compress, and elevate (RICE) the affected area and seek medical attention if the pain persists or worsens. Remember, taking care of your knees is crucial for maintaining a healthy and enjoyable running routine.

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